This coming-of-age drama follows the life of Eli Bell, growing up in Brisbane with his mute brother, drug-dealing stepfather and notorious criminal babysitter. Life doesn’t seem too bad, until Eli’s stepfather vanishes, his mother gets arrested and he and his brother have to go and live with their drunk father. And the complications don’t stop there.
The plot of Boy Swallows Universe was a bit intense and slow to develop for me. I actually considered DNF-ing it a few times. The book isn’t bad at all; it’s interesting and well-written with unique and likeable characters, but it did feel very long and slow and it took me a really long time to get into it.
However, I’m glad I stuck with it, because Eli Bell was one of my all-time favourite book characters. He had a truly fantastic narrative voice, managing to be funny, relatable and extremely likeable throughout the book. There were also a lot of other excellent characters. Augustus (Eli’s brother) was very interesting with some unexpected complexities, and I completely adored Caitlyn Spies and Slim. Eli’s relationship with Brisbane’s most notorious criminal was one of the most endearing things I’ve ever read.
This novel is full of life, love and surprises. It’s worth the effort.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.